Thursday, 21 May 2020
Outbreaks of Covid-19 in Meat Processing Plants: Statements
Heather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
On the statistics, I understand from the HSE that there have been 35 outbreaks associated with workplaces, with 879 cases, of which 16 outbreaks occurred in meat processing plants, with 828 cases associated with these outbreaks.
This is an ongoing outbreak, but preliminary estimates from the national outbreak control team indicate that between 55% to 60% of people in meat processing plants who were infected have returned to work. This information will be subject to ongoing validation and updating. It is not the case that it is all happening at once. Some 60% of the 879 people who were infected are back at work. I wanted to give the Deputies that information.
The Health and Safety Authority, HSA, developed this protocol in line with IBEC, Chambers Ireland, the construction sector and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. They all came together and the protocol that was developed is a baseline guide for all employers. The HSA is responsible for the protocol and it has all the power necessary to carry out inspections and to take action if necessary. However, the HSA is initially working with employers and employees to resolve any problems and iron out any issues. The number of inspections the HSA has carried out in recent days is 240 and it has said that in the majority of places inspected it has found that employers have been complying with the protocol. As expected, many employers are doing the right thing and they are ensuring that all of the necessary procedures are put in place to protect their workers. Since 18 May, the HSA has found a high level of compliance with the protocol across all sectors. It has also inspected meat plants and is happy everything is working well.